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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 04-20-08, 11:17 PM   #1
bragi
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How to transport stuff on a bike

As many people here know, if you're going to go car-free, you need to figure out a practical way to haul stuff around. I've never tried an Extracycle, so I can't speak intelligently about that, but I have tried trailers, and for hauling heavy stuff, they work extremely well. However, trailers aren't something I want to have attached to my bike every day, so unless the load is excessive, I just won't use one. For daily types of loads (groceries, papers from work, extra clothes during unpredictable spring weather, beer, etc.), I can think of three common methods, all of which I've tried: messenger bags, backpacks, and panniers. Personally, I don't think much of messenger bags, and backpacks and panniers each have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on what you need. Right now, I'm using panniers again, because even though they utterly destroy one's ability to crank hard off the seat or to lean hard on turns, they're simply more practical than anything else I've tried for getting beer back from the store.

What do you think?
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Old 04-20-08, 11:54 PM   #2
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I use panniers for everyday stuff, a trailer for large loads. I am thinking about a trunk bag for days when I don't need to take more than repair stuff, snacks, and a wind breaker.
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Old 04-21-08, 12:27 AM   #3
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I just use a big ol' backpack. If something won't fit in that, I walk or take the bus. I need to buy a 50 lb. and a 55 lb. dumbbell at the sporting goods store. I asked my friends with a minivan to help on this one. They said they will.

I really admire you folks who carry big loads on bikes. I just can't justify the expense of a trailer or longtail for the few times I would use it. I would be interested in co-op ownership of a trailer if the opportunity ever comes up.
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Old 04-21-08, 06:07 AM   #4
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Right now, I'm using panniers again, because even though they utterly destroy one's ability to crank hard off the seat or to lean hard on turns,
Err.. why? Are you talking about clearance problems when talking about tight turns?
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Old 04-21-08, 06:21 AM   #5
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I just use a big ol' backpack. If something won't fit in that, I walk or take the bus. I need to buy a 50 lb. and a 55 lb. dumbbell at the sporting goods store. I asked my friends with a minivan to help on this one. They said they will.

I really admire you folks who carry big loads on bikes. I just can't justify the expense of a trailer or longtail for the few times I would use it. I would be interested in co-op ownership of a trailer if the opportunity ever comes up.
I posted this in the utility thread. http://bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=409431

If you have access to a couple frames that have no use any more, this looks like a fairly inexpensive way to get a sturdy trailer.
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Old 04-21-08, 07:18 AM   #6
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xtracycle. I haul groceries, food for long rides, camping gear, bike parts, extra clothes, extra water, yard sale stuff, etc. Rides like a regular bike when empty, Handles very good when loaded. You could easily haul 6 or more 12 packs of beer without a problem.
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Old 04-21-08, 07:23 AM   #7
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I have used all methods at one point or another(except the xtracycle). Currently my preferred hauling method is a small front basket, combined with either a set of pannier or a set of folding baskets on the rear. My least preferred method is the backpack. What I really want is a Bakfiets... and it is on my acquisition list...right after I get my Brompton.

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Old 04-21-08, 10:45 AM   #8
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I use different things. Rack trunk for commuting to work, and messenger bag for doing groceries and errands. Msgr bag is easier for me in that I don't have to remove it every time - so for a few short hops it works great. Also my medium Timbuk2 holds MORE than my rack trunk - so I never have a problem filling it up with groceries.

My rack trunk is preferred for my commute - as I don't want a sweaty back, and it holds my clothes and lunch.

I have a grocery pannier too - but I don't use it that much and only take it unless I know I'll be getting a ton of stuff -- or something bulky.
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Old 04-21-08, 05:44 PM   #9
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I've never tried a trailer, but I've seriously considered getting or making one. My current method, which works quite well so far, is this:



I can haul nearly all of a week's worth of groceries for my brother and I, and the front rack can handle up to 70 pounds (though I've had no more than 30 or 40 on it). Before that, I tried this:



The problem with the huge basket was that riding became very sketchy with just 15 pounds or so. I assume because it was mounted so high, where as the panniers and even the top of the rack are low in comparison.
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Old 04-21-08, 06:04 PM   #10
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Car seat mounted in the cargo box. The base stays in, the car seat moves to Jen's car when needed. The kid cover keeps my little one toasty (a little too warm when its really sunny when she's still in winter clothes!) The animals are along for the ride.

We've logged nearly 200 miles in the last 3 weeks.






Today we went to the library and one of the LBS's. Last week groceries, library, bike shop, cafe, met a friend for lunch, hardware store, post office, etc. etc.

When the car seat base is not installed I can carry pretty much anything (or anyone) I want.
It can hold alot of beer, dog food, groceries, scrap lumber to the dump, etc. etc.



I also have a cargo trailer... different uses for sure - but I like the Bak for close in town, heavy, and / or children (I've moved my 2 nephews around town up front on the bench seat with restraint harnesses).
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Old 04-21-08, 07:38 PM   #11
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Lamplight--
What kind of reflective tape did you use on your bags? I've been trying to find tape that will stick to the ripstop-type fabric, but no luck so far. Did you sew it on?


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Old 04-21-08, 07:50 PM   #12
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Lamplight--
What kind of reflective tape did you use on your bags? I've been trying to find tape that will stick to the ripstop-type fabric, but no luck so far. Did you sew it on?
Just letting you know my SunLite Panniers and rack-top bag came with the 3M reflective tape sewn on.


On topic...I am using a SunLite Top-loader bag which doubles with fold-out panniers. Next trip to the store I'll take some photos, missed the opportunity today.
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Old 04-21-08, 08:06 PM   #13
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1) When I tour, I use panniers with no difficulty at all ... I'm not sure I understand the problem with them.

2) Check out the Utility Cycling Forum here for ideas on how to carry stuff.

3) I was carfree for 6 years in Winnipeg, and furnished my apartment during that time ... sofa, table and chairs, new TV, large fake ficus trees, a desk with a hutch, a deep freeze, etc. etc. You've just got to get creative about getting that stuff home.
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Old 04-21-08, 10:42 PM   #14
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I need to buy a 50 lb. and a 55 lb. dumbbell at the sporting goods store. I asked my friends with a minivan to help on this one. They said they will.
My rear rack can hold 100 pounds. One could strap the dumbell to a rack if it would fit. Just a thought...
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Old 04-21-08, 11:34 PM   #15
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My rear rack can hold 100 pounds. One could strap the dumbell to a rack if it would fit. Just a thought...
And a very good thought at that.

I also thought about using my backpack and making two trips. That would work, I think. (I don't want to boast, but I might even be able to carry the 105 pounds on my back for the six miles.)

But my friend feels he owes me a favor, and a ride to the sporting goods store is a good way for him to repay. He offered and I accepted.
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Old 04-21-08, 11:51 PM   #16
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My weight set came in a nice plastic carrying case. It was boxy and had a nice handle which i used to tie it to my rear rack, counterbalancing it with some other goods like groceries. My rack is a $30 Blackburn form the LBS. I wouldn't attempt this with a seat-post mounted rack.
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Old 04-21-08, 11:56 PM   #17
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Err.. why? Are you talking about clearance problems when talking about tight turns?
Don't mistake my comments- panniers are my first choice for transporting light to medium loads. I have noticed, though, that when the panniers are even a little bit loaded, the extra weight at the rear of the bike makes it hard to control once you start to ride a little aggressively. It's fine for riding straight or when seated, but if you're leaning hard into turns or up out of your seat on a steep hill with lots of car traffic, it gets a bit unnerving when the back of the bike starts to fishtail heavily. I haven't noticed this problem with a backpack or messenger bag. To be blunt, they turn your bike into a minivan. On the other hand, if you're not trying to win the Tour de France, panniers are way more comfortable than anything else I've tried, and you can carry way more with much less effort. (I'm getting more curious about Extracycle, however...)
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Old 04-22-08, 01:17 AM   #18
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The xtracycle has similar issues, but they kick in at higher masses, due to the overall increased stability. In general, if one is carrying >40 lbs plus oneself, one *is* driving a minivan, and the loss of maneuverability is something of a given.

Essentially, if you can't rebalance a weight constantly (on your back, for example), you lose some control over it. That's the tradeoff, and while there are some sweet spots, it's fundamental.
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Old 04-22-08, 01:45 AM   #19
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Don't mistake my comments- panniers are my first choice for transporting light to medium loads. I have noticed, though, that when the panniers are even a little bit loaded, the extra weight at the rear of the bike makes it hard to control once you start to ride a little aggressively. It's fine for riding straight or when seated, but if you're leaning hard into turns or up out of your seat on a steep hill with lots of car traffic, it gets a bit unnerving when the back of the bike starts to fishtail heavily. I haven't noticed this problem with a backpack or messenger bag. To be blunt, they turn your bike into a minivan. On the other hand, if you're not trying to win the Tour de France, panniers are way more comfortable than anything else I've tried, and you can carry way more with much less effort. (I'm getting more curious about Extracycle, however...)

Why would you ride aggressively with loaded panniers? They require a different technique. And yes, they do turn your bicycle into a minivan ... which is nice. Personally, I like the feel of my bicycle when it is loaded down with panniers ... it's more stable, and makes for a very comfortable ride.
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Old 04-22-08, 02:13 AM   #20
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Four panniers have always given me plenty of room. I have a trailer but its rare I ever need it. For groceries about town. Never Have i not been able to get all my stuff home with two panniers. But, then I do my errands on bike almost every day.
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Old 04-22-08, 02:41 AM   #21
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I once carried an entire set of weight training stuff home on the bike. The bar was tied to the frame, and the rest (barbell handles and perhaps 50 lbs of weights) was in my backback. The bar wasn't very securely tied though, and once when I stopped on a downhill slope the bar just went on, and landed with the loudest crash you've ever heard!

I use the vintage lightweight for all my cycling, except off road. I find that I can transport most things on it, with a little creativity. The other day I transported an overloaded moving box across town on the handlebars. I got some strange looks, but nothing worse.
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Old 04-22-08, 07:02 AM   #22
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It's fine for riding straight or when seated, but if you're leaning hard into turns or up out of your seat on a steep hill with lots of car traffic, it gets a bit unnerving when the back of the bike starts to fishtail heavily.
IME, there's no fishtailing going on. If the weight is only in the rear, and you exceed the bike's design spec weight, the front becomes *very* easy to move. Even a tiny weight shift causes oversteer in the front. The rear *feels* like it's moving a lot when I ride... just if I walk the bike, the rear ignores most steering input, and the front responds to everything. The easy way to walk a bike when it's rear heavy is to almost not steer with the handlebars, and provide most of the steering input via the saddle.

If I can weight the front, the steering calms down. This is easier said than done when you're female :-/. A front rack or front basket should help me a lot. It doesn't need to have a ton of capacity to mitigate the effects of a 40-50lb rear load.
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Old 04-22-08, 09:07 AM   #23
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Lamplight--
What kind of reflective tape did you use on your bags? I've been trying to find tape that will stick to the ripstop-type fabric, but no luck so far. Did you sew it on?
As Joseph Paul said, they come that way. I've had great luck with Sunlite bags.
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Old 04-22-08, 05:54 PM   #24
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I've had good results with the single wheel BOB trailer. It doesn't slow me down and it balances with the bike.
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Old 04-22-08, 11:59 PM   #25
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Why would you ride aggressively with loaded panniers? They require a different technique. And yes, they do turn your bicycle into a minivan ... which is nice. Personally, I like the feel of my bicycle when it is loaded down with panniers ... it's more stable, and makes for a very comfortable ride.
Well, I don't ride aggressively with panniers, because I simply can't. And that's okay the vast majority of the time; if you're transporting papers from work, tools, or groceries, it's usually not an issue if you can top that hill 10 seconds earlier. It doesn't mean I don't notice, though.
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